Next up in the favorites queue is my Fair to Flair colleague K. Sawyer Paul, who curates International Object on Tumblr. He has a very different way of looking at wrestling than most of us, so while his list may include a lot of the same guys others would, his reasonings for them are different.
And I like different.
Holzerman asked me to give him my top 5 wrestlers, but failed to mention criteria. Top 5 best wrestlers? Best talkers? Best money makers? Best choke slammers? The field was wide open. I went instead with my top 5 wrestlers as great examples of wrestlers as people, as influencers of wrestlers and people, as examples to us all how to make it in the workplace of wrestling.
1. Bret Hart - Bret never took a sick day, never took time off, and never asked for a vacation from the day he signed in WWE to Wrestlemania 12. After that, his record gets spottier, but some of his best work was still to come. Let that be a lesson to you: work your ass off, then be a diva. Bret is still my childhood hero, and I’m proud to say those values he extolled to his fan base still hold up to this day. Also, wear a steel chest plate and you will win the day, every time.
|Number 1 and number 2 on a recent RAW|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
3. The Miz - The Miz’s rise to the top of WWE is one of the great hard-working stories of our time. Though he’s a villain, he simply loves wrestling so much you can’t really help but root for the guy. God knows, there was a long time where the only person who believed he would make it was himself. The lesson the Miz gives us? If you want something, never, ever give up. You’ll one day get to pin John Cena at Wrestlemania.
4. Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan/"Bridey" - Sense of humour does a lot to endear me to a person. For instance, I honestly had no interest in the career of Brian Danielson until I saw his sense of humour. WWE gets a lot of things wrong. God knows, they’ve ruined as many careers as they’ve made. But I honestly believe that letting Bridey’s sense of humour shine has been the turning point of his career. He was a great professional wrestler. He was always going to go down in history as one of the best technicians in the art. But he’s becoming a fuller character.
What’s the lesson learned from Bridey? Show your heart, your humour, and your love at all corners, especially when burying people.
5. Kevin Nash - Surely I’ve gone crazy. Nash has a reputation as a lazy worker, a backstabbing politician, and a turncoat professional. Why is he on this list? The wink. Professional wrestling is a deep, difficult, and nearly-impenetrable form (just listen to an argument about art vs sport if you want to get a headache), but I honestly believe Nash understands the business and the practice better than almost anyone. Nash has winked at the camera more than anyone, because he wants the audience to get it like he gets it. He doesn’t want you to suspend your belief: he wants to realize what you’re watching is a farce. There’s beauty in farce, of course. Wrestling is nothing if not a beautiful depiction of ugly people. Nash wants us to get to that level, to realize that underneath the pomp and circumstance, we’re all manner of scum and villainy — and that’s okay.